Segments in this Video

Ralph Bunche (06:05)


Ralph Bunche was a complicated figure in global politics during the 1960s. In 1949, he helped negotiate a peace between Israel and four Arab nations, which earned him a Nobel Peace Prize.

Bunche and the McCarthy Era (02:06)

With the outbreak of the Korean War, the fear of Communism in America grew. Senator Joseph McCarthy targeted Bunche, a director at the United Nations. In the 1930s, Bunche had more radical politics and was a member of Socialist and Marxist parties

Bunche's Early Life (08:34)

Bunche grew up in a poor interracial neighborhood in Detroit. He saw the hypocrisy in Americans preaching democracy to the world, while having Jim Crow laws at home. He attended UCLA, where he worked for equal rights and played basketball.

Bunche in Education (04:05)

Bunche got a master's degree in political science from Harvard University. He became the head of the political science department at Howard University.

Bunche at Howard University (04:53)

Being a professor at Howard University in the 1930s was the highest achieve possible for black scholars. Bunche wrote a series of articles on race, politics, and economics. He formed a new political party called the National Negro Congress that worked with progressive groups to increase racial equality.

Bunche and Colonialism Studies (07:18)

Bunche went to Harvard and studied the effects of French colonialism on Africa. He saw few differences between colonialism and the League of Nation's mandate system. He published a book about colonialism and imperialism following Italy's takeover of Ethiopia in 1935.

Bunche and Communism (04:00)

Bunche warned against Adolf Hitler during his rise and the racist views of Nazism. Bunche publicly renounced the National Negro Congress and Communism after Russia aligned with Hitler.

Bunche and the OSS (04:35)

Bunche was invited to join the Office of Strategic Services, a predecessor to the CIA, as an expert on Africa. Bunche wrote a series of manuals about Africa for the soldiers fighting Nazi forces in North Africa. He left the OSS for a job at the state department.

Bunche and the Post-War World (07:24)

Bunche, as a colonial affairs expert for the state department, attended the conferences of Allied powers after the war that established the United Nations. Bunche proved his excellent diplomatic skills. He wrote the chapter of the charter that promised the decolonization of countries in the developing world.

Bunche and Decolonization (03:53)

Bunche worked within the system of the United Nations to end colonialism in a handful of nations. Black leaders believed he was not doing enough and called for rapid decolonization.

Bunche and Palestine (05:42)

Palestine was not made into a UN trusteeship, which Bunche oversaw the independence of, but remained a British colony. Violent tensions rose as more displaced European Jews arrived in Israel. The United Nations established a special committee to handle the situation, which Bunche was put in charge of.

Bunche and War in the Middle East (04:13)

Bunche established two plans for the area, which he submitted to the UN. The UN approved the plan to partition Palestine into two independent states with an economic union. Shortly after it was established, five Arab nations declared war on Israel.

Bunche and the Arab-Israel Conflict (05:27)

After Count Folke Bernadotte was assassinated, Bunche became the chief UN mediator trying to end the conflict. The gang that killed Bernadotte had plans to kill Bunche as well. The nations accepted Bunche's proposal for an armistice.

Bunche and the Armistice Agreement (07:07)

Bunche was sent to arrange the armistice agreement, which many at the UN thought was impossible. Bunche struggled to draft an agreement the Israelis and Egyptians found fair. The Egyptians agreed and within a year the three other nations at war with Israel also signed an agreement.

Bunche and the Noble Peace Prize (04:28)

Bunche gained fame throughout the world for negotiating the peace. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950.

Bunche and McCarthy Investigation (05:46)

As Bunche was being considered for a promotion at the UN, he was accused of being a Communist. McCarthy believed Bunche was a radical Communist sent by the state department to corrupt the UN. He was accused for being a concealed Communist, because of his political ties in the 1930s.

Bunche as Under-Secretary-General (07:05)

Bunche was promoted to the under-secretary-general of the UN, the second highest position. He served in the position during the Suez Crisis. He helped create and deploy the first UN peace keeping forces.

Bunche and Africa (07:33)

Bunche helped oversee the independence of Ghana in 1957. It was the first step in his goal for all of Africa to be decolonized. Bunche took over the decolonized of the Belgian Congo after the situation turned violent.

Bunche and the Congo (06:06)

The Congo was an important strategic location for the Cold War. After the prime minister was killed, protests broke out throughout the world. Bunche struggled to prepare the Congo for independence.

Bunche and the Civil Rights Movement (08:21)

Bunche was an active member of the Civil Rights Movement. His work freeing black people around the world put pressure on the United States to end segregation.

Credits: Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey (01:29)

Credits: Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey

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Ralph Bunche was a statesman, a peace negotiator, and the first person of color to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Bunche overcame racial prejudice and poverty in America to become Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Length: 117 minutes

Item#: BVL165964

Copyright date: ©2001

Closed Captioned

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